Home Forums Open Talk Leica SL the beginning of the end of the legend?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by viktor pavlovic viktor pavlovic 1 year, 5 months ago.

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  • #9494 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic
    Keymaster

    We all know that Sony A7 series cameras, took quite some photographers from Leica camp. Being much smaller company, which built its reputation on the outstanding mechanical qualities, small and compact size of rangefinder styled bodies and manual focus lenses which were considered as one of the best in the industry, Leica weren’t left with much choices than to enter digital age. While they previously basically added sensor instead of the film in the bodies that were all similarly shaped, recently they are throwing many of its brand DNA, trying to penetrate mainstream digital age with all bells and whistles that electronics allow, such as EVF, HD (4K) video, high frame rates, electronic shutters etc.

    I am somehow afraid, that this is a swan song of the legendary camera maker, because they can’t fight competitively in the field they have so little experience about without paying high price for relying on third-party suppliers. This price certainly reflects in the product pricing, but the question is how long will orthodox fans of Leica would accept this, sooner or later realizing that they are paying for the red dot and not top technology. In the moment of the release, Leica SL has 24 mpx sensor (Sony A7rII has with 42) and some new technology implemented in the EVF and LCD. But it lacks in body image stabilization (unlike Sony A7MII and A7rII), will offer only 3 extremely large and expensive AF lenses at the beginning, and lower high ISO performance than its much cheaper competitor (A7rII).

    The main problem which I have with this like is its size (and weight). The thing is huge, probably very well made, but it doesn’t look like Leica any more and it reminds me somehow Leica R8, their last attempt in the film SLR world, camera that had tons of problems (with electronics) and led the company almost to bankruptcy.

    While I’d really love to see Leica doing well for many more years, I am afraid that we might be witnesses of the end of one of the greatest brands, at least in the form as we used to know it. (Maybe some Asian company will buy brand license for toasters or vacuum cleaners…)

     

    What do you think?

    #9513 Reply

    Anthony

    Viktor,

    I have to agree with you. In the politics of camera systems, I’m an impartial bystander, in the sense that I don’t own a single FE lens, meaning I don’t own any allegiance to Sony despite owning an A7r and A7s. I could shift my entire lens collection over to Leica SL by just buying a bunch of adapters. Here’s why I don’t see any good reasons for me to switch to Leica SL given what we currently know (ignoring price):

    1) The SL is twice the weight (847g) and significantly bigger, meaning I get a backup body with Sony for the same weight.
    2) With Sony I can chose between 3 amazing sensors, meaning my backup body can be different, giving me extended imaging capabilities.
    3) In body image stabilisation (as you already said).
    4) A Leica red dot makes me a target – I value my safety (you know it’s so bad that they offer a cheap US$1,995 upgrade to remove the red dot (plus other cosmetic changes)
    http://gizmodo.com/5827216/leicas-willing-to-strip-your-m9-of-its-famous-red-dot-for-an-extra-1995
    5) Sony’s sensors are good enough (how much better can the SL be, if at all?)
    6) Sony’s EVF is good enough. Given all the above, Leica’s sexy EVF isn’t enough.

    This ignores price and is enough for me to stick with Sony. But, add price in and it’s madness.
    I’m sure Leica-Sony users are reaching the same conclusions.

    Current retail price for the A7II is £1099 from a website with a high street shop i.e. not a grey import. Making the £5050 Leica 4.5x the price. Both have the same sensor size and resolution…madness!

    But for anyone with Leica lenses, I can understand this being an exciting time….they just need to buy adaptors and bigger bags.

    A7II costs £1099 @ Fotosense, UK

    #9515 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic
    Keymaster

    I am just wondering how many Leica users with enough funds will be willing to take this system with or without red dot. As I said it reminds me Nokia Vertu project. While Vertu exists, and is probably doing well, its values are rather linked to the jewelery and business status symbol. How much of that Mojo can be transferred to photography, is hard to predict, but the problem is that SL doesn’t even look great IMHO and considering its style being quite far from traditional “Leica look”, I am curious to follow its success.
    Don’t get me wrong, there are enough snobs that Leica will not be able to fulfill market demand at the beginning, same as with every model they released in the last 10 years, but question is, how many they really produce 🙂
    We’ll see, maybe I am completely wrong and it will be new raise of the star…
    Cheers,
    Viktor

    #9589 Reply

    jim kannry

    Viktor,

    I agree with your assessment of current Leica problems. Actually, I thought the M3 was the peak Leica camera, and, while I had no interest in digital Leica’s, I understood the company’s marketing plans well enough. I’m sure the cameras exist only as a platform for justifying purchase of lenses which are incredibly expensive, but uniquely small and excellent quality. But now there are two troublesome issues for Leica. First, the Sony A7 series is not only excellent in many ways, but the new lenses, especially those made by Zeiss, are at least as good as the equivalent lenses from Leica, at much lower cost. And, second, the new SL Leica camera and lens offerings are too big and heavy even for snobs with limited real interest in photography to carry around to show their friends.

    Regards,

    Jim

    #9590 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic
    Keymaster

    Hi Jim,
    thank you for the comment. You nailed it with the snob vs size and fancy look relation. I am really curious to see if there would be some new space for snob-ism though 🙂 I was looking for the nice Leica M3 SS but never managed to find one that will suit my budget (in a perfect condition), so I ended with M6. Not a bad model either, but when you carry those super old ones such as Leica I or II from early batches, there is still some little bit of extra appreciation to enjoy about the brand.
    Cheers,
    Viktor

    #9613 Reply

    Anthony
    Participant

    May be Leica will go the way of Carl Zeiss, which dumped its aspirations for making full camera systems (e.g.Contax and Ikon) to just focus on what it was really good at…making lenses.

    It’s a business model that works. I’m sure there will be Canikon customers who will pay over the odds for a native red dot on their lenses. Leica seems to have a good relationship with Panasonic, so perhaps it can be extended to others.

    #9615 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic
    Keymaster

    Good point Anthony, but I am afraid that Leica doesn’t have such a strong position. Zeiss a.g. is huge company, lens division is just a small part, and almost whole company belongs to same owners.

    Leica camera and lens division is owned by Andreas Kaufmann and while he owns rights for Leica brand (I mean Leica Camera AG), its sister companies have different owners and they just use brand Leica under license (Leica Geo and Microsystems). That is entirely different starting point…

    However, if they abandon cameras, and keep making lenses, I am sure that you are 100% right. They will find many more users across platforms…

    Cheers,
    Viktor

    #10546 Reply

    Thea

    Hi Viktor, what do you think about new Petzval 58mm lens?
    http://microsites.lomography.com/petzval-58-bokeh-control-lens/

    #10564 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic
    Keymaster

    Hi Thea,
    it looks interesting, but as I already wrote to you, I am afraid it’s expensive gimmick at the end.
    Cheers,
    Viktor

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